Coconut sambar lunch

BM #116 : Week 4, Day 5
Theme : Simple everyday thali

For today’s thali, it’s once again a mix of rice and roti. Meals like this make my life easy since the roti part is really attractive to my son. For me and my husband, the South Indian part holds more attraction. Anyway, we can all agree that when everything is together in a plate, it definitely feels like a feast.

The plate has a lot of regular recipes that I prepare, but even for the regular dishes, recipes can vary. For example, for the spinach kootu, I used the leftover coconut paste from making a porial. I just made a smoother paste of the coarse paste I already had. The difference is the presence of garlic which changes the taste of the dish than usual. The rajma also is free of onions and garlic making it Jain style. The real reason was that I was out of both items than intentionally making it Jain style. I used canned tomatoes for it. It’s rare that I am out of onions, but it does happen once in a while.

Onions and tomatoes are really vital in cooking for me. So I am always stocked up in both. When Covid 19 was at its peak here in NJ, I started stocking up on canned tomatoes. I always have a can or two as a back up. But during Covid time, I started buying packs of 12. I find it really helpful when you want to stretch the window between the grocery shopping. A pack of 12 comes for a long time for me, but it’s comforting to know that I have a back up in case I am not able to shop that week. Read on for the recipes.

The lunch plate has

  1. Rice
  2. Coconut sambar
  3. Spinach kootu
  4. Beans Parippu usili
  5. Rajma
  6. Roti
  7. Yogurt (not in the picture)

No onion no garlic Rajma recipe:

  • 1 can red kidney beans or 1 1/2 cups cooked rajma
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
  • 3 big tomatoes, puréed or chopped very finely or half of a 14 oz canned tomato
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala or pav bhaji masala
  • Salt as needed
  • A handful of Coriander leaves for garnish


  1. If you are using dried red kidney beans, wash and soak them overnight. Pressure cook in Instant pot for 30 minutes with enough water to cover it completely. Once done, let the pressure release naturally. If using canned kidney beans, wash and drain the beans. Set aside.
  2. heat ghee or oil in a pan. Add the chopped green chilies, salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder and coriander powder. Mix with a spatula and then add the puréed or finely chopped tomatoes. Mix well. Add the garam masala. Cover and let the tomatoes cook, mixing once or twice in between till the tomatoes are soft and mushy and oil floats on top. Now add the rajma, with the water it’s cooked in if you started from dried beans. Else add the beans and a cup of water. Add more water if it’s too thick. Let it come to a slow boil, stopping when you feel that the consistency is perfect for you. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Add chopped coriander leaves on top. Serve with rice or roti.

Keerai kootu

  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bunches of spinach – about 4 cups
  • 1/3 cup of cooked moong dal
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Salt as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • For tadka
    • 1 teaspoon oil
    • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 1 teaspoon urad dal
    • A pinch of hing


  1. Make a smooth paste of coconut, red chilies, cumin and garlic, adding a little water. Set aside.
  2. In a big pan, add the chopped spinach and a little water. Let the spinach cook completely. Now add the ground coconut paste. Add dal. Mix well and let it cook for 4-5 minutes, adding a little more water if it’s too dry. Taste test and turn off the heat when it reaches the consistency you like. Prepare the Tadka in a separate pan with mustard seeds, urad dal and hing, add it to the kootu. Serve with rice.

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Vazhakka MorKuzhambu lunch

BM #116 : Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Simple everyday thali

Green plantains (vazhakka) and yogurt based mor kuzhambu is one of the favorite combinations for my husband. My mother in law used to prepare this at least a couple of times in a month. Mor kuzhambu also pairs well with parippu usili. That’s a favorite with my husband as well. For today’s thali, I had only the South Indian part of the meal planned. I had some cooked black eyed peas in the fridge so at the last minute I added the roti and curry also to the thali.

On days when I make rice and roti, my son will eat only the roti. Rice is for the days when he has no other choice. Well, I am not complaining much since I wasn’t a fan of many South Indian dishes at his age. Since he eats rice, I will take that for the time being.

I was able to cook with a lot of enthusiasm when I was started preparing the thalis. I have just four more to do now and somehow I am not finding that energy to get it done. I keep finding some or the other reason to keep postponing it. I guess for the last week of the marathon, I will end up cooking and posting on the same day. It’s the shopping that I have been postponing. Hopefully I will get it done soon!

Read on for the recipes and pictures.

The thali has

  1. Rice
  2. Mor kuzhambu
  3. Vazhakka
  4. Lobia curry
  5. Roti
  6. Cucumber slices


  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds. Once it pops, add 2 cloves of minced garlic. When it changes color a little, add two peeled and diced green plantains.
  • Now add the spice powders – 1 teaspoon each of red chili powder and coriander powder. Add salt as needed and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder too. Sprinkle a little water, mix everything carefully. Cover and cook, removing the lid to mix in between to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • When the plantains are cooked, turn off the heat. Serve with rice and any yogurt based gravy.

Mor kuzhambu

  1. Soak 1 tablespoon each of rice and toor dal in a small bowl for at least 20-30 minutes. Drain and grind along with 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 teaspoon jeera seeds, 2 green chilies and 1” piece of peeled ginger. Make a smooth paste of this adding water as needed. Keep aside.
  2. In a pan, add a teaspoon of oil. Add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. Once it pops, Add the vegetable of your choice for the mor kuzhambu. You can use ladies finger, ash gourd, plantains, yam etc. Add half teaspoon of turmeric powder and Let the vegetables cook. Once it’s cooked, add the ground paste and half cup of water.
  3. Now blend 1 cup of yogurt in the blender jar for a couple of minutes. Add this to the pan. Lower the heat and let it cook. Once it starts to boil, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove. This is to ensure that the heat doesn’t curdle the yogurt. Serve with rice and vazhakka.

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Poori Thali

BM #116 : Week 3, Day 2
Theme : Indian Flatbread Thali

Like I mentioned yesterday, my deep frying skills aren’t the best. I neither like to deep fry nor am I good at it! So these deep fried pooris are a rare occurrence at my place. Can you blame my husband for getting excited? He LOVES pooris, but his borderline cholesterol is great excuse for me not to make any :D. Hey, it’s all for his own good, believe me! ;-)

This thali was planned on the fly. I had sambar rice with raita and pickle planned for lunch. I had some leftover chole from the night before. So decided to pair the chole with poori and serve as part of the lunch. I want to make batura for the chole someday, but I always come up with some good sounding excuse for wanting to postpone it.

I made three kinds of pooris – plain, ajwain (carom seeds) and a chutney flavored poori. The flavors are inspired from the same YouTube video. The chutney flavor wasn’t too prominent in the final poori though. I might increase the amount a little more next time (if I ever make poori again!)

I always serve chole with cut raw onions and lemon wedges. Since there was a salmonella outbreak and I didn’t know where my onions were sourced from, I skipped the raw onion part. I needn’t have worried, it was not from the farm that recalled it. So I served chole with lemon wedges. I also made a fresh garlic chutney, originally from Vaishali’s space, using frozen green garlic. Fresh green garlic always reminds me of our trip to Ahmadabad for BM 25 meet and Vaishali :-).

Read on for the recipes and more pictures.

The thali has three kinds of poori though each plate has only one poori each.

  1. Chutney Poori
  2. Ajwain poori
  3. Plain poori
  4. Chole
  5. Lime wedges
  6. Fresh garlic chutney
  7. Sambar rice
  8. Raita / yogurt
  9. Pickle
  10. Kachumber (salad)
  11. Gulab jamun (readymade)

Chutney poori :

  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • Water to make a dough
  • Salt as needed
  • Oil to deep fry
  • For the chutney : Grind together 1 cup coriander leaves, 1/2 cup mint leaves, 3 green chilies, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 inch piece of ginger To a smooth paste without adding any water OR use 3 tablespoon readymade green chutney
  • Add the wheat flour into a mixing bowl. Add the chutney and salt as needed. Slowly add water and mix it in. knead to get a slightly stiff dough. Cover and Set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Take a small lime sized ball of the dough, roll it out using a little oil to prevent dough from sticking to the rolling pin. Deep fry in oil, drain once it puffs up and serve hot with chole.

Ajwain poori:

  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon ajwain/ carom seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ghee
  • salt as needed
  • Water needed to make a dough
  • Oil to deep fry
  • In a mixing bowl, add the flour, ajwain seeds, ghee and salt. Mix to combine and add water little by little and form a smooth but stiff dough. Take a small ball of dough and roll it out into a small circle. Deep fry to make pooris. Serve with chole or any curry of your choice.


  • 1 small onion
  • 1 big tomato
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 small green chili
  • Salt and lemon juice, as needed
  • Finely chop all the vegetables and mix in a bowl with salt and lemon juice as needed. Serve with pooris or chapati.

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Peas paratha thali

BM #116 : Week 3, Day 1
Theme : Indian Flatbread Thali

I loved preparing thalis for the Indian bread week. More than me, my husband loved it. Once the COVID19 quarantine started in March, we haven’t been to any of the restaurants. My husband’s preference for eating out is going to Indian restaurants. So we have been missing all the ghee laden yummy delicacies like parathas. So he was happy that I was making it at home.

Though the taste is good when we make parathas at home, it’s never the same as the restaurant version. It’s because of the amount of ghee used. I don’t think any of us add as much ghee as they add in the restaurants. So its not floating in ghee when we make it at home. It’s healthier for sure, but that luxury factor is a little less :-).

For the first day, I have a peas paratha thali. I prefer paratha with just yogurt and pickle/chutney, but my husband likes to pair it with a curry. Rice and yogurt with pickle is a regular way to end the meal for South Indians, so it’s an everyday thing. For the thali, I prepared two Curries instead of one.

I made only four parathas in total. For me and my husband, one paratha with two Curries followed by rice is a good meal without it being heavy. My son skipped the rice, so two parathas was enough to fill him ….well, for a few hours. Now that he is in his teens, “mom, what’s there to eat?” is a constant question at my place :D.

Read on for the recipe for peas paratha. I will be updating the post for the curry recipes later.

The thali has

  1. Peas paratha
  2. Plain rice
  3. Green chutney
  4. Pickle
  5. Papad
  6. Aloo matar
  7. Khatta meetha kaddu ki Subzi
  8. Yogurt

Peas paratha Ingredients:

  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon jeera seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green chilies
  • Salt as needed

For the dough

  • 1 cup atta / whole wheat flour
  • Salt as needed
  • Water to knead into a dough
  • Ghee as needed to make the parathas


  1. Make the dough first. In a big bowl, add the flour and salt. Mix. Add water in 1/4 cup fulls and keep mixing until a dough starts to form. Knead until you get a soft dough. Cover and set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes. Make the filling while the dough is resting.
  2. For the filling, cook the green peas first. You can microwave it or cook in boiling water. Drain and let it cool lightly. Once cool, pulse it a couple of times in a mixie jar or food processor to get a very coarse paste. Do not process it until it’s a smooth paste.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Add jeera seeds. Now it crackles, add finely minced garlic cloves and green chilies. Once it’s cooked, add the ground paste and salt as need. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to avoid it sticking to the pan. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Prepare parathas with a small ball of peas as filling. Here is a link on how to roll and fill a paratha. Serve with any curry of your choice or with yogurt and pickle.

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